Monday, September 5, 2011

Beware the Bloody Bard of Bears

This weekend, for all practical purposes, officially marks the end of summer. It is the last major weekend of travel and adventure before Thanksgiving.  The weekend will be little different in terms of what I do as I am working Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but the number of people I am interacting with in the visitor center is dramatically higher than what it has been recently due to all the extra visitors. So my holiday weekend is being spent serving the American public.

That is not to say that I have not experienced my share of adventure in the last few days. Just last night when I left to ride my bike home from the visitor center the road was shrouded in fog and it was challenging to see much of the way ahead. Whenever I am riding back and forth I look about the trees to see what animals might happen to be in the vicinity. This action most commonly results in sightings of deer, turkeys, or nothing. But last night things were different. As I looked down an access road off the main road I realized I was looking at the snout of an adult male black bear protruding from the trees through the foggy mist. I stopped to watch until he backed up into the trees and disappeared. The rise in excitement that I felt from this experience quickly changed as I made the turn onto the road leading to my house due to the dramatic appearance of a second bear (a bit smaller than the first) standing in the middle of the road looking up at me in great surprise. It made for quite the ride home!

If I were to identify a single word to describe the remainder of this past week apart from bear sightings it would have to be “bloody.” That word would more precisely be applied to Wednesday last, a day marked by distinctly bloody experiences.

At the repeated behest of the Red Cross Alison and I decided to attempt the adventure of donating platelets to be used to treat young children and cancer patients. I have donated whole blood on sixteen previous occasions, but had never donated platelets. It is an entirely different experience.
Alison was unable to donate platelets (but did donate whole blood instead) because they could not identify a good vain in each of her arms, for they require both of one’s arms to donate platelets, one out of which your blood will be sucked, and a second where your blood will be sent back into your body. It was a long and rather uncomfortable experience to sit essentially immobilized (as both of your arms have needles in them and should remain motionless) for two full hours watching  while the majority of your blood is sucked out of your body and then fed into a machine and spun around through a series or tubes  before being returned to you once more less an ever increasing number of platelets which are instead sent to a bag hanging overhead.

I thought that the experience would be easier to recover from than a donation of whole blood since very little blood would actually be lost in the process. I could not have been more wrong. I was so impacted that in the cantina afterwards Alison had to hold a can of juice up to my mouth so that I might drink as I was incapable of taking such action myself with either arm.

I have never experienced anything like the draining of life that was donating platelets. Apparently the human body completely recovers from such a loss within seven days, so I could donate again every week indefinitely. Judging by the lack of life and energy that I am continuing to feel at this moment, that is not going to be happening.  Apparently my body does not react well to the loss of platelets!
The theme of blood continued later that day when Alison and I acquired free tickets to and then attended a splendid production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The actors did a fine job and the performance was both stellar and memorable, especially since we were seated in the second row and felt as though we were nearly on the stage ourselves.

If you are not familiar with the story of Julius Caesar you would, first of all, do well to remedy that failing, and secondly do well to know that a great many people die a violent death. This particular production did not skimp on the fake blood and by the end of the scene in which Caesar was fatally stabbed the white robes of not only Caesar, but also all eight bearers of the knife and Marc Antony were splattered with blood. It was quite a spectacle.Since Wednesday I have had to be especially careful not to injure myself as the blood would flow freely out of my body as a result of the recent diaspora of platelets. I have restricted myself to an electric razor, fearing the results of an unwary nick of a regular one and made a point to attempt to avoid situations in which I might have to wrestle a bear or fight a cougar.

Unlike Caesar my loss of blood (or parts contained therein) will most likely not result in my demise nor change the course of world history. Nor is it likely that anyone (much less Shakespeare since he himself is rather deceased at present) will either write or perform a play about the subject. So I suppose I will have to stick with bear spotting and explaining to people why it is worth planning a trip more than two hours ahead of time so that there is actually a possibility of finding a room or campsite available upon arrival to a national park on Labor Day weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment